by Raffaele Crocco


He raises his fists to the sky, Mimmo Lucano, and shouts. His anger, his fear, his joy, his revenge are all in his gesture. He shouts because he has learned that the Court of Appeal of Reggio Calabria (South Italy) has just overturned the sentence that condemned him to 13 years and two months. The new sentence is only one year and six months, and it’s been suspended. The fortress of lies has collapsed. The accusations made in the first instance that Lucano had cheated and swindled have evaporated. The charges of criminal conspiracy and embezzlement were dropped. Only the charge of abuse of office was left.


It is a victory for Domenico Lucano (known as “Mimmo,”). It is also a victory for all Italians who in recent years have tried to stop the devastation wrought by those who want to cancel all forms of welcome, opening doors and futures to those fleeing wars, misery, catastrophes and dictatorships. For all of them it is a serious defeat.


Those who arrive on Italian shores in unlikely boats, or after a hellish journey at the gates of Trieste, are simply people infinitely more unfortunate than us. Lucano at Riace was well aware of this and built an effective reception system. He showed that immigrants were resources, not disasters. He did so despite the system’s legal, regulatory and bureaucratic constraints. Most importantly, he did it by ignoring the right-wing, racist and criminal winds blowing through part of the country and part of the government. And if he broke the law a little, it was because laws can be unjust and inhumane.


The judges have confirmed what we already knew: Lucano is not a criminal and he did not exploit the situation for his own gain or to increase his power. Riace is a functioning system, now officially based on legality and justice. It is a system that can be reactivated and exported. Things can now be put back in order.


On the cover photo, Domenico Lucano (known as “Mimmo,”) the former mayor of Riace (Reggio Calabria metropolitan city, Calabria, Italy) © Alessio Tricani/